Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the choka, a Japanese form with a variable length.

Before we jump into this week’s poetic form, I just want to give a heads up that we may be spotty on poetic forms through the rest of the year. I’ll be poeming daily in November for the November Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge, and December is usually a busy month. That said, we’ll be back at it in January (if I’m not able to sneak one or two in before then).

Speaking of the choka (OK, maybe we weren’t, but…), it’s a Japanese poetic form with a variable length that follows these guidelines:

Five syllables in the odd-numbered lines (line one, three, five, etc.)Seven syllables in the even-numbered lines (line two, four, six, etc.)Finishes with two consecutive seven-syllable lines

As with other Japanese poetic forms, the choka does not typically rhyme or have rules on meter.


Play with poetic forms!

Poetic forms are fun poetic games, and this digital guide collects more than 100 poetic forms, including more established poetic forms (like sestinas and sonnets) and newer invented forms (like golden shovels and fibs).

Click to continue.


Here’s my attempt at a Choka poem:

“trip,” by Robert Lee Brewer

the rain surprised us
as we waited for the train
so our clothes were drenched
when we boarded after lunch
but we just sang songs
about Gene Kelly and then
we settled into
our smiles and idle chatter
both the former and latter

(Note: I mentioned that choka don’t typically rhyme in the guidelines above, but I decided to take poetic license with the form on my closing couplet…because that’s what poets do.)

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